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AREAS OF SMOKE AND HAZE along with hot interior temperatures will continue into the weekend, with high pressure aloft persisting. There will be a slight chance of thunderstorms around portions of Trinity County Friday afternoon, otherwise expect more dry weather. (NWS)
95 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
DEAL SHAPING UP for trucking water from Ukiah to the Coast
by Chris Calder
Fort Bragg could resume private water sales to the greater Mendocino Coast within two or three weeks, officials from the Mendocino City Community Services District and the City of Fort Bragg said Wednesday. The announcement came after Mendocino County government agreed to subsidize transport costs of water trucked from Ukiah to Fort Bragg's municipal intake in the Noyo River.
According to Ryan Rhoades, MCCSD Superintendent, the deal would mean resuming regular water deliveries to coast communities that have been left scrambling since Fort Bragg ended outside water sales last month, citing its own supply issues.
Fort Bragg City Manager Tabatha Miller said Wednesday that the arrangement seems doable. Water provided by the City of Ukiah would be deposited into and treated by Fort Bragg's system, she said, and the city would sell to wholesalers at its customary price of three cents per gallon.
The MCCSD's Rhoades said water provided under the arrangement would likely cost around $600 per 3500-gallon truckload, or possibly $500 for those living nearer the town of Mendocino, if some can be taken directly to MCCSD storage tanks. Currently, water trucked from Ukiah to locations on the coast can cost $1000 or more per truckload.
Rhoades noted that by far the largest part of the cost of trucked-in water is the cost of transportation. He said, after conversations with county officials, he understood that the county is willing to subsidize transportation costs for water that goes to private households, though not to commercial establishments.
Details of the arrangement are still being worked out, Rhoades said. The deal would likely require Fort Bragg City Council approval, said Miller, adding, "We want to help."
SKUNK TRAIN PARENT COMPANY SUES FOR EMINENT DOMAIN SEIZURE OF FORT BRAGG MILL SITE
by Malcolm Macdonald
On August 11, Mendocino Railway, parent company of what is popularly known as the Skunk Train, filed suit in the Superior Court of Mendocino County. The defendants in the suit are Georgia-Pacific LLC; North American Timber Corp.; Hawthorne Timber Company, LLC; Mendocino County Treasurer-Tax Collector; All other persons claiming interest in the property; and Does, 1 through 100 inclusive.
The first two paragraphs of the filing lay out the basics. Citing California's state constitution, Article 1, Section 19, California Public Utilities Code 229, 230, 611, and 7526, as well as California's Code of Civil Procedure, section 1230.010, Mendocino Railway has declared that they plan to use the power of eminent domain to acquire approximately 205 acres of what is commonly called the old mill site in Fort Bragg and 70 acres alongside Pudding Creek.
What is eminent domain? This is the right of the government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation.
How then does Mendocino Railway have that right? California Public Utilities Code, Section 611 states, “A railroad corporation may condemn any property necessary for the construction and maintenance of its railroad.”
California Public Utilities Code, Section 230 defines a railroad corporation thus: “'Railroad corporation' includes every corporation or person owning, controlling, operating, or managing any railroad for compensation within this State.”
Among the powers granted to railroad corporations by law: “The officers, agents, and employees of the corporation may enter upon the lands or waters of any person, for this purpose, subject to liability for all damages which they do thereto.”
That refers us back to the powers of eminent domain granted to railroads. This is also enumerated in California's Public Utilities Code, Section 1230.010 as well as part of the state constitution's Article 1, Section 19.
So, why is this happening? Readers may recall a mid-May AVA article about Mendocino Railway's parent company, Sierra Railroad, setting its sights on much of the old G-P (Georgia-Pacific) property. At that time Sierra Railroad Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mike Hart stated in a phone interview that the company has been considering a purchase of the mill site property since as early as 2004. The gist of the May, 2021 AVA article referenced Sierra Railroad's alarm that the City of Fort Bragg was also negotiating with Georgia-Pacific for purchase of the mill site land.
Apparently, Sierra Railroad and Mendocino Railway feel so left out of the negotiation process for the mill site property next door to the Skunk Train depot that they (Mendocino Railway) have decided to go another route, so to speak. That different route being abandoning negotiations and adopting a railroad's power to assert eminent domain.
This takes us to what might seem like an overly obvious question, what constitutes a railroad? The California Public Utility Code defines it this way: “'Railroad' includes every commercial, interurban, and other railway, other than a street railroad, and each branch or extension thereof, by whatsoever power operated, together with all tracks, bridges, trestles, rights of way, subways, tunnels, stations, depots, union depots, ferries, yards, grounds, terminals, terminal facilities, structures, and equipment, and all other real estate, fixtures, and personal property of every kind used in connection therewith, owned, controlled, operated, or managed for public use in the transportation of persons or property.”
For several years, the Skunk Train has operated as little more than something akin to an amusement park ride, taking mostly tourists on a short jaunt up Pudding Creek, turning around short of the cave-in at Tunnel #1, then returning to the depot. This “railroad” has not taken the mail to Northspur for years. It does not connect with its own rail line in Willits. It certainly does not connect to any other rail line.
In that May interview, Mike Hart said it would only be a matter of months before that tunnel cave-in was fully repaired. It is nearly four months later now without a re-opening of said tunnel. He implied that a fully connected Fort Bragg to Willits rail line was not much further away than the tunnel repair. He even implied that a connection from Fort Bragg to Willits and on south to Cloverdale was doable in the near future.
Is it really?
In addition, during that May interview Mike Hart alluded to his company's construction of a hiking/biking trail alongside the railroad tracks that would run all the way from Fort Bragg to Willits. All appearances now show that this will not be something akin to the Coastal Trail the City of Fort Bragg created along the edge of the old mill site, a hiking/biking trail free to anyone who shows up to use all or part of it.
All indications are that Mendocino Railway plans to charge the citizenry to walk or bike its trail. In May, Hart concluded his discussion of the Fort Bragg to Willits hiking/biking trail with this comment, “How this in any way harms the community escapes me.”
Any given member of the local populace might respond by saying, “It will hurt me in my wallet.”
In light of this lawsuit, recent talk by Mendocino Railway/Sierra Railroad about water delivery from inland to the coast or vice versa might appear to be nothing more than hot air designed to bolster the claim that Mendocino Railway is a legitimate, fully functioning railroad. The same empty-promise tag could be put on the company's short-lived offer to use the rail line to haul trash.
The most crucial question remains, is the Skunk Train a legitimate railroad. One entitled to eminent domain powers? For several years, the actionable truth appears to demonstrate otherwise. Presumably, the attorneys for the defendants in this case will seek to show just that.
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY COURTHOUSE, 1900. TODAY? ARCHITECTURAL DEVOLUTION.
SEPTEMBER 14, 2021 GUBERNATORIAL RECALL ELECTION
Official Mendocino County Ballots will be mailed to every registered voter in the State of California, including Mendocino County voters on August 16, 2021. If you do not receive your ballot by August 30, 2021, please call our office or come by our Ukiah office so we can get you a replacement ballot. The local Sample Ballot information pamphlet will be included with your official ballot. You will also receive a statewide Voter Information Guide that will be mailed directly to you by the State.
During this pandemic, we encourage you to stay home, stay safe, vote the ballot you receive in the mail and return your ballot either through the mail or a Ballot Drop Box Location (listed below) at your earliest convenience. With this election, we can open and process your ballot as soon as we receive it. We cannot upload any results until 8 pm on Election Night.
When returning your voted ballot – NO postage is necessary, whether you mail your ballot/envelope or deposit it into a Ballot Drop Off box. All drop off locations are available 24/7.
Mendocino County Ballot Drop Box Locations –
Will Be Open 24/7 Beginning August 16, 2021 Through 8 Pm On Election Day:
You are welcome to call our office and verify your residence address, to make sure we have your most current information.
When returning your ballot - don’t forget to sign the back of the return envelope, we can’t count your ballot if it doesn’t have your signature. If you forget to sign it, we will contact you by mail so we can get a signature from you.
If you are worried that your signature has drastically changed, please re-register at www.registertovote.ca.gov or call our office, we will be happy to mail you a new voter registration card.
We check every signature – if your signature does not match, we will contact you by mail so it can be corrected.
We will have “In-Person Polling” locations throughout the County for those voters who need assistance or need to visit a polling location. You can drop your ballot off at any polling location in Mendocino County on Election Day.
**If You Wish To Vote At A Polling Location –
You Must Take The Ballot You Receive In The Mail With You
To Surrender, Or You Will Vote A Provisional Ballot**
All Polling Locations Are Open Election Day Only - 7 Am – 8 Pm
Round Valley Ballot Drop Is Open Election Day Only – 7 Am – 8 Pm
If you are mailing your ballot through USPS, it must be mailed by Election Day. If mailing on Election Day, be sure to get it postmarked. If you use a Ballot Drop Off Location, please drop it off by 8 pm on Election Day, all drop box locations will be locked at 8 pm on Election night.
All of our “In Person” Polling locations will follow all Public Health Orders, including social distancing, wearing facial coverings, and having hand sanitizer and gloves available.
If you have any questions, please call the Elections office at (707) 234-6819 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
AFGHANISTAN: Security at the U.S. embassy in Kabul has begun evacuating “non-essential” personnel as Marines fly in to beef up security as the Taliban moves into place outside the city preparing to take it. Chalk up another looming tragedy for the Bush administration, whose best and brightest managed to destabilize the entire Middle East. This exit is precipitous but at least it won't be from rooftops like it was in Vietnam. The WSJ says some 5,000 Americans and endangered host country nationals are being evacuated in anticipation of the fighting in Kabul. Another bi-partisan catastrophe looms. All of it's kinda like a macrocosmic Mendo where no one is ever held accountable, no one remembers what happened last month, and history starts all over again every day.
AN IDIOT'S GUIDE to PG&E. Before the power octopus began murdering its customers and burning down their houses, critics were pointing out that PG&E was shorting personnel and maintenance, cutting back generally on the safety of its infrastructure to ensure its investors received regular and lucrative dividends, funneled to them by a captive board of directors and wildly overpaid upper-echelon managers. In other words, the public was taken out of public utility in favor of private interests, and PG&E continues to rampage as its customers pick up the tab for its legal bills.
LOCAL WATER WOES. Here it is the middle of August, and wouldn't one expect the governments of our far-flung communities to be more focused on long-term water supply strategies than trying to figure out how to get water right now to the predictably dry Mendocino Coast, not to mention relief for the several thousand Mendo hill muffins whose wells and springs have dried up? I'm sure lots of thirsty Mendo people are figuring out their own water plans to capture as much of this winter's rains as they can, or should be making those plans on the safe assumption that the big rains of yesteryear may not ever return, that this drought will become permanent.
FORD PROPERTIES — two guys outta Hopland — have blind-mailed Dear Mendocino County Land Owner letters to dear Mendocino County land owners with a pitch to sell because, “As you may or may not be aware, land permittable for cannabis is in high demand. Although there is no clear path for cannabis cultivators at the moment, it seems many buyers are speculating on beating the street for quality agricultural/rangeland assets. The price of cannabis is at a 5-year high, and this commodity value is driving real estate prices up hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars….”
IN FACT, prices currently are so low that people are lucky to get $500 a pound for last year’s dope, and given the huge recent increase in deluded people growing marijuana in the sere, thirsty hills of Mendocino County this year… Well, the Green Rush has done rushed out the price door.
AS FOR PERMIT “CLARITY,” har de har. Clarity on marijuana policy in this muddled county will be unclear for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, looked at from the perspective of the social collapse just now picking up momentum, country property is a sound investment. Check the water, though.
IT COULD HAPPEN HERE!
San Francisco authorities seek ‘egregious coyote feeder’
by Amy Graff
San Francisco authorities are calling on the public to help identify a woman who has allegedly fed wild coyotes in the city, an act that can lead the animals to lose their fear of humans.
San Francisco Animal Care & Control said in a statement Wednesday that it has received reports of feeding in multiple areas and shared an image of an individual whom the agency has identified as "a particularly egregious coyote feeder."
The image was captured on a camera on Bernal Hill and shows a woman with a platter of meat sitting on the ground as she feeds a coyote.
"The same person allegedly feeds coyotes in other locations around the city," the agency said. "If anyone can identify this person, please call Animal Care & Control at 415-554-9400."
Coyote sightings are common in San Francisco, where the animals dot the urban landscape, building dens and raising young in pockets of vegetation tucked among neighborhoods. Nextdoor neighborhood groups are filled with stories of coyotes killing cats, and Instagram is flooded with images of coyotes sauntering S.F. streets. While the animals are nocturnal, photos often show them out and about in broad daylight.
Wild coyotes are naturally shy and avoid humans, but they can become comfortable around people if they are fed intentionally.
An aggressive coyote alarmed several parkgoers in Golden Gate Park in the past year, and authorities said there were five reports of an animal charging toddlers. After an ongoing investigation, federal authorities captured and killed the animal.
Despite signs telling people to not feed coyotes, Animal Care & Control said people consistently and illegally gave the coyote food, so it lost its natural fear of humans. The agency explained feeding coyotes "creates dangerous situations when animals learn to approach people as they seek an easy handout."
Feeding wild animals is illegal, and anyone caught in the act could face fines of up to $1,000 and/or jail time, the agency said.
"People need to stop feeding wild animals" said Virginia Donohue, executive director of the agency, in a statement. "Continuing to defy the law — and common sense — will lead to a person getting hurt and an animal being destroyed."
EUREKA PRODUCTIONS UPDATE
* * *
EUREKA PRODUCTIONS LATEST
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 12, 2021
NELSON AVELAR-CHALON, Goleta/Ukiah. DUI.
BRITTON AZBILL JR., Covelo. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
AARON BLACK, Covelo. Parole violation.
DANIEL CAULEY, Ukiah. Controlled substance, failure to appear.
WES FELIZ, Redwood Valley. DUI causing bodily injury.
PATRICK GAIA, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license for DUI.
ZACHARY GIFFORD, Cloverdale/Ukiah. Domestic abuse, assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
CLOVIS KEE JR, Boonville. Trespassing, paraphernalia.
DANIELLE PERDUE, Antioch/Ukiah. Battery, criminal threats, resisting.
SHAWN POTE, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, contempt of court, resisting.
SCOTT SALO, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
JULISHA SMITH, Jackson, Mississippi/Ukiah. Child abduction from parent or guardian, kidnapping, conspiracy.
DAVID YADON, Willits. Disorderly conduct-intoxicating drug with alcohol, disorderly conduct loitering, failure to appear.
THERE IS A VIRUS HERE, it kills people. The only way we prevent it is get vaccinated, get masks, do social distancing, washing your hands all the time, and not just to think about, “Well my freedom is being kind of disturbed here.” No, screw your freedom. Because with freedom comes obligations and responsibilities, you cannot just say, “I have the right to do X, Y and Z,” when you affect other people, that is when it gets serious. It's no different from a traffic light, you put a traffic light at an intersection so someone doesn't kill someone else. Yeah, you have the freedom to wear no mask, but you know something? You're a schmuck for not wearing a mask. You are supposed to protect your fellow Americans around you. It's just that simple.
— Arnold Schwarzenegger
ROAD MAPS FOR THE COMPROMISED
I am saving and making copies of the story written by Marilyn Davin who wrote lovingly about her brother and his struggles with mental illness and drug addiction, and her role as a sister accepting the responsibility of being a hands-on when needed caretaker.
Many families have a member who requires extra care. I often interact with parents who are creating an estate plan that includes a roadmap for a compromised child. It is an overwhelming task to plan for caregiving when parents will not be around to care for a grown child who cannot care for themselves.
That is why Marilyn's story touched me. Marilyn chose to be involved in her brother's life but keep some boundaries so that she did not become consumed by her brother's personal demons. Both Marilyn and her brother learned to navigate the world of drug addiction and mental illness in a creative and human manner and make the best of an inadequate and overburdened government system for the mentally ill.
What I would add to this story is that if you have a situation where you will be giving an inheritance to a drug addicted or mentally ill beneficiary, make sure there is a special needs trust put into the plan so that someone will manage the funds to supplement SSI, Medi-Cal and/or HUD programs with the intention that the funds will benefit the beneficiary long-term with careful fiscal management.
Margaret Mary O'Rourke, Attorney at Law
PEBS’ ODD DREAM
I was standing alone in the heat with a rifle at my feet in a vast barren space the size of a football field. I remember feeling it was mercilessly hot and dry. Something uncertain was in the air. Two men were aware of my plight with 100 yards between them and me, and each other. We formed a triangle.
The intruder coming my way was a predator and began walking toward me slowly and deliberately, causing me to call out No No with each deliberate step that brought him closer to me and the rifle at my feet. I'm a revolutionary pacifist, the exception being in self defense. I was honing my internal defenses in hopes he would stop but I knew he wouldn't. He wanted to harm me.
The other person soon became aware of this man coming for me as a menace and began walking at a fast pace to reach me. The predator finally did reach me and felt with his frantic fingers around my feet to get a grip on the rifle, but my fingers were faster, more familiar. I got to the rifle first, and fired a fatal shot in self defense. My life became more important than his at that moment because he tried to take mine. I was empowered by my beliefs.
Meanwhile, the man who came to help arrived to find me transfixed, a gun in my hand, a dead man at my feet. He was too late. When he realized this, he scooped me up with his big arms wrapped all the way around me, as though to comfort me. That man was Bruce Anderson.
This question may have already been covered, but I will ask it anyway: Has anyone in a government agency considered prosecuting those who refused a COVID vaccination for reckless endangerment or depraved indifference? If not, why wouldn't this type of statute apply?
I am not a lawyer, but it seems like a reasonable course of action. If one were to knowingly endanger a person with a car or a dangerous animal, how would that differ from a person with the virus (masked or not) knowingly walking into a classroom full of 9-year-olds who, as we all know, can't get the vaccine?
It seems pretty straight forward to me. I recall as a child hearing the old saying that went something like “your right to swing your fist stops at the end of my nose.” Rights are not just rights, they also carry responsibilities.
Mark Allen Reed
I carry. Those are the words I think need to be on new hats, shirts and sweatshirts with a logo showing the silhouette of a gun.
If we all wore that slogan, would-be muggers and attackers would not know the truth. My guess is they would back off just knowing we might have a concealed weapon. People already use signs of security companies in front of their house to protect against break ins. This type of clothing might just work.
LOCAL CITIZENS UNITE TO PROTECT ALBION RIVER WETLANDS SANCTUARY
Anyone who has had the special pleasure of a kayak ride up the snaking green bends of the Albion River surely has experienced Enchanted Meadow, an expansive and very beautiful 52 acre wetlands sanctuary in the heart of the Albion valley. This deeply loved area surrounded by redwoods and massive lichen festooned firs, eel grass and old railroad trestles is facing likely severe damage from soon-to-begin logging of an adjacent parcel. Friends of Enchanted Meadow, a small local nonprofit based in Little River is working to stop this timber harvest plan by Mendocino Redwood Co. FOEM founding member points out that MRC owns over 200,000 acres in Mendocino County and has much too much control and influence over our forests. FOEM reminds us, in this time of frightening global warming, of the urgency to view our forests as essential environment, not just privately-owned plantations of commodities. The whole area surrounding the sanctuary should be preserved.
Friends of Enchanted Meadow speak of the urgent need for more supporters, funds and help with critical legal work and can be contacted at email@example.com
BOOTLEG FIRE OFFERS EVIDENCE FOR PRESCRIBED BURNS
“The fire moved around it”: success story in Oregon fuels calls for prescribed burns
Oregon’s Bootleg fire has offered new evidence that Indigenous techniques can change how megafires behave
The Bootleg fire stampeded through southern Oregon so fiercely that it spit up thunderclouds. But when the flames approached the Sycan Marsh Preserve, a 30,000-acre wetland thick with ponderosa pines, something incredible happened.
The flames weakened and the fire slowed down, allowing firefighters to move in and steer the blaze away from a critical research station.
That land belongs to the Nature Conservancy, an environmental nonprofit that has worked with the local Klamath Tribes to bring back pre-colonial forest management techniques such as prescribed fire — small, controlled burns that clear out fire-fueling vegetation, renew the soil and prevent bigger, runaway blazes.
Pete Caligiuri, the group’s forest program director, credits those efforts with saving the research center, suggesting that the ancient forest management tools can have a dramatic impact.
“That’s exactly what we had hypothesized and hoped would happen,” said Caligiuri. “The research station is completely unimpacted, unharmed by the fire — the fire moved all the way around it.”
A similar phenomenon occurred in the Black Hills Ecosystem Restoration Project, another area where the Klamath Tribes had worked with the US Forest Service to thin young trees and apply prescribed burning. When the Bootleg fire finally swept through, the forest was far less damaged than other areas that were not treated, the forest service said, noting that deer were even seen grazing on a “green island” preserved by the treatment.
Well, since my baby left me
Well, I found a new place to dwell
Well, it's down at the end of Lonely Street
At Heartbreak Hotel
Where I'll be, I'll be so lonely baby
Well, I'm so lonely
I'll be so lonely, I could die
Although it's always crowded
You still can find some room
For broken-hearted lovers
To cry there in their gloom
They'll be so, they'll be so lonely baby
They get so lonely
They're so lonely, they could die
Now, the bell hop's tears keep flowin'
And the desk clerk's dressed in black
Well, they've been so long on Lonely Street
They'll never, never look back
And they get so, they get so lonely baby
Well they are so lonely
They're so lonely, they could die
Well, now, if your baby leaves you
And you got a tale to tell
Well, just take a walk down Lonely Street
To Heartbreak Hotel
Where you will be, you will be so lonely baby
Well you will be lonely
You'll be so lonely, you could die
Although it's always crowded
But you still can find some room
For broken-hearted lovers to cry there in their gloom
Where they get so, they get so lonely baby
Well they're so lonely
They'll be so lonely, they could die
— Mae Boren Axton, Tommy Durden, Elvis Presley "Hot dog, Mae, play that again!"
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
For the first time I visited a Costco store this morning, and what a store! It is massive, and brightly lit, full of everything imaginable. My wife asked me to drive her there; there was a wall unit AC she saw advertised for a pretty cheap price. (Going to 100°F today) I was there to lift the AC into my truck. In fact, my role in life seems to have been narrowed down to lawn work/yard maintenance and moving heavy stuff with my truck for neighbors and relatives.
I don’t have much to say about it. Costco might be a good place for Preppers to stock up, cheap prices, large lots. I was impressed with their grocery section, which was huge: pallets of eggs, gallon of milk $2.39, crates of bananas, boxes of blueberries and grapes. I picked up a couple of sirloin steaks at $5.99 per pound which I’m fixing to grill up now.
I’m not going to be a regular shopper at Costco but if they advertise something I’m looking for at a good price, I’d go back.
MEET THE CENSORED: PAUL JAY
by Matt Taibbi
When contacted by press, YouTube admirably reversed bans and content removals involving a Canadian broadcaster. But the episode reveals the limits of algorithmic censorship
This article is out a day late. I was about to hit “send” on Meet the Censored: Paul Jay last nightwhen the YouTube press team, whom I’d contacted for comment, suddenly reversed a series of penalties in a case involving a Canadian broadcaster named Paul Jay. Kudos to the Google/YouTube communications department for taking the time to get to the bottom of Jay’s complaint, which had already been rejected on appeal. Still, one major issue remains, and overall, it remains a bizarre episode, one that underscores the inherent limitations of algorithmic censorship.
Jay, the founder of the The Real News Network, now runs a site called The Analysis. He ran a video essay on February 7th called, “A Failed Coup Inside a Failed Coup.” YouTube promptly banned the piece, on the grounds that it was “content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome of the U.S presidential election is not allowed on YouTube.”
In fact, Jay said the opposite. He was expressing an idea that would likely be welcome in many mainstream outlets: Donald Trump should be investigated for planning a coup. In fact, watered-down versions of his analysis have appeared here and there, especially since the release of a book quoting former Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley as saying Trump on January 6th was preaching the “The gospel of the Führer” in a “Reichstag moment.”
Jay similarly believed Trump’s speech was perhaps designed to incite a destabilizing moment during which acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller could declare martial law. The fear that Miller would do something along those lines was the ostensible reason 10 former Defense Secretaries wrote a joint letter in the Washington Post on January 3rd urging him to stay on the sidelines.
Virtually every mainstream American outlet has shown video of the January 6th speeches of people like Trump and Rudy Giuliani ad infinitum. Here’s a clip from the YouTube channel of the Washington Post on that theme:
When Jay received his notice from YouTube, he wondered what his offense could have been. Independent journalists across the spectrum now figure the whims of Internet algorithms into their editorial decisions, a habit that becomes more exasperating with time as “community standards” shift without notice. In this case Jay guessed his crime was showing clips of Trump speaking on January 6th, along with narration that said things like, “Trump decides to call the crowd into action.”
He released a new version of the piece without the video of Trump, and YouTube didn’t object to the second version. So he assumed he was right. Irritated, but also figuring the problem had been solved, he went to promote the new video, which was entitled, “Trump’s Treason and McConnell’s Mayhem.” Now he discovered his Google Ads account had been suspended.
Google’s general public explanation for why a Google Ads account may be suspended reads:
If we detect an egregious policy violation (defined below) your account will be suspended immediately and without prior warning.
Jay couldn’t imagine what he’d done that could be described as “egregious.” He appealed, but his appeal was turned down. He was incredulous. “I personally could never buy a Google ad,” he says now. “Never mind just on YouTube. I couldn’t go sell a cockamamie watch...”
Shortly thereafter, Jay ran an interview with Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, in which they discussed the presence of Christian “Dominionists” in the armed services. While the piece, entitled, “Powerful Christian Nationalists in Military See Trump as Vehicle for Authoritarian Religious State,” did discuss January 6th, it did not discuss the 2020 election. Nonetheless, YouTube banned it and gave Jay a strike for spreading false information about the 2020 election.
Even if you don’t agree with Jay’s conception of what happened on January 6th (I myself lean toward different explanations), his suppositions were factually based. It is true, for instance, that ten former defense secretaries publicly declared on January 3rd that “As extraordinary as it may sound, what amounts to an undeclared coup d’état is being attempted in the United States.”
Moreover, Jay had two offenses, neither of which really corresponded to what was in the actual content. In the first, YouTube seemingly accused him of making an argument opposite to the one he was making. In the second, YouTube appears to have simply made a mistake and found 2020 election agitation when it wasn’t there.
I reached out to Google early Tuesday, and to their credit, they had multiple people look at the issue. By Tuesday night they’d unsuspended Jay’s Google Ads and “reviewed” his already-denied appeal:
In a statement to me sent this afternoon, the company wrote:
Our Community Guidelines apply equally to everyone, regardless of whether they’re a small news channel or a larger media outlet. We do allow for content that provides sufficient educational, documentary, scientific and artistic context in the video, audio, title or description. This may include countervailing views, or if the purpose of the content is to condemn, dispute, or satirize misinformation that violates our policies.
After some back and forth, I can report a final score: every issue with Paul Jay has been corrected, save one. The “Christian Dominionist” piece was correctly re-assessed to have nothing to do with 2020 election misinformation, and the company has determined that the original action to remove it was a mistake.
Regarding the Google Ads ban, that seems to have been due in part, originally, to the company having instituted what it calls a “Sensitive Event” policy earlier this year, prohibiting any ads referencing January 6th. The company says there was an error with its enforcement process of these policies, and regrets the mistake.
Unfortunately, the remaining issue is a big one. Jay’s first video, “A Failed Coup Inside a Failed Coup,” remains deleted. YouTube confirms that it did remove that piece, though the explanation is limited to saying it violates its presidential election integrity policy. Though it’s difficult to say for sure, the uneventful release of a second version with Donald Trump edited out suggests the ban was and is for the same reason initially assumed: it contained a clip of Trump speaking to an excited crowd just before the events of January 6th.
Here’s a brief list of the news organizations whose YouTube channels continue to feature that same footage: NBC, CBS, The Telegraph, BBC, Bloomberg, the Guardian, VICE, the New York Times, and Politico(with warning). There are many others.
I did ask directly if the use of the video was the issue, and if so, why other outlets are allowed to use it. The company didn’t send a direct reply, though the statement about guidelines that “apply equally” to large and small companies appears to reference the question, and it seems logical to infer that Jay’s use of the Trump video didn’t satisfy YouTube’s idea of “sufficient educational, documentary, scientific and artistic context.”
Jay, as he points out, sourced his entire original piece to the mainstream sources Google would deem “authoritative”: New York Times, Washington Post, Time, etc. His thesis almost exactly mirrored the premise of the current bestselling book, “I Alone Can Fix It,” by Pulitzer-winning Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.
A running theme of controversial content moderation decisions dating back years now (but especially since January 6th) involves aggressive deletions and strikes against smaller, independent outlets who use the same footage permitted in work by larger commercial companies. From Jon Farina of Status Coup having footage of January 6th taken down that was not only used but lauded on channels like CNN (see the TK piece on that subjecthere) to Matt Orfalea and Alison Morrow being censured for “misinformation” for running video of NBC and CNN reports, this has become an increasingly common phenomenon.
It’s great that YouTube fixed the bulk of the decisions in Jay’s case. A cynic might say that his luck in this area might be tied to the anti-Trumpian character of his analysis, but I’m not so sure that’s the case. Even if these companies were trying to apply rules in an ideologically consistent manner, it wouldn’t matter. The real problem is that it’s technologically impossible to exercise human-level judgment in every case, and many of the smaller independent media ventures simply can’t survive algorithmic errors — another factor that will give large media companies a huge inherent market advantage over time.
No matter what your political views, it should be troubling that the question of whether or not the public gets to see real video from important historical episodes like the events of January 6th is dependent on how companies like YouTube define proper “context.” If that definition changes regularly, and is not made public besides, journalism becomes a weird dystopian guessing game.
I asked Jay about these and other questions:
Matt Taibbi: How does work in independent media change when you’re dependent upon a platform like YouTube?
Paul Jay: I once did an experiment where I was interviewing Rob Johnson from INET, and we put it up on TheAnalysis, and then he put it up on his New Economic Thinking. On mine it did, I think, 2,500 views. And on his, that did about 130,000 views. So it makes me wonder. Then I had a Matt Taibbi interview (!) before all the shit hit the fan on January 6th. And when I interviewed you, the first time, that did 89,000 views relatively quickly. And then I interviewed you again and, just as an experiment, I put a pretty much the same photo and everything, it did about 3,000 views. That was after the January 6th events.
Matt Taibbi: Regarding this latest episode, on the removal of your first video, the argument of people in favor of aggressive content moderation would likely be, “Trump’s words have to be deleted for a reason.” What would be your response?
Paul Jay: I’m doing journalism, and in journalism you can’t just make things up. You try to show, if it’s video, why you’re saying what you’re saying. I don’t want to just say, “I think Trump incited a crowd,” when I can show him inciting the crowd. But here’s another thing… they’re not pulling NBC down, who showed that Trump clip a zillion times.
I’m not in favor of the algorithms at all. Period. So let’s start with that. The whole idea of censorship through algorithm is BS. The idea that you can have the major platforms for public discourse privately owned, and exempt from any kind of public oversight, or even constitutional oversight, to me represents a step towards a kind of technocratic police state.
So, all that being said, I’d say to them, if you’re going to look at the appeal, a human being puts eyes on it, it’s kind of obvious if you’re promoting a fictitious thing about the elections or you’re doing journalism. A 10-year-old kid could look at the piece and say, “This piece is journalism.” So it’s not about that.
Matt Taibbi: I think what they’re trying to do with this kind of moderation is make sure that everything that is controversial is either properly “contextualized,” or replaced with a summary, composed by “authoritative” sources. But can people really understand history if they don’t see the original source material?
Paul Jay: I think the answer is no, they can’t. And how you contextualize that footage is critical. It’s not just about showing it because you could go on YouTube, I’m sure, and see that Trump clip in all the mainstream news, but they don’t contextualize it the way I contextualize it. And that’s part of understanding history.
Matt Taibbi: Is the result of this kind of censorship going to just drive audiences to big corporate news agencies? And if that’s the case, what can people do about that? What’s going to happen to alternative news, if there’s a double standard?
Paul Jay: Let’s back up one step. Why do they allow alternative media? The financial class, the billionaire class, the state, and so on. Why is there even an alternative media in the United States? Because on the whole it’s marginal, and as long as it’s marginal, it’s acceptable. Because democracy in the United States, in my mind, it’s a complicated thing. There really is a kind of democracy, that’s mostly for elites.
There’s a need to keep up a kind of facade of democracy. And maybe facade is too strong a word, because it’s not like there are no democratic rights. You still can go to a court, there is a jury, people can sue, they win sometimes, the odd progressive gets elected. There’s some there there, and it’s worth defending that, but there’s a facade that this democracy really allows dissenting voices. As long as they’re marginal, okay. So the more the big tech companies control this score, the better they can make sure that stuff stays marginal.
Matt Taibbi: Is it really worth the trouble to protect “marginal” media? Why not just take a nap next to the pod, and wake up in a less complicated media landscape?
Paul Jay: Gore Vidal had this line about USA: the United States of Amnesia. The educational system is so terrible. Most people have no idea what World War II was about, and we’re dealing with such a mass outside of the biggest cities, such a mass of people who, as a result of crappy educational system, have practically no understanding of history. So alternative media has some effect. Some of these progressives that got elected have some effect, but it’s still very controllable. What will change that? If that’s the question, alternative media has a role to play, but it’s not the thing that’s going to change it. There can be change to the extent there’s real organizing, a revitalization in the union movement, a real organizing in the working class, especially in states that have voted pro-Trump, but not only. There’s a big a problem in terms of corporate Democrats.
So real organizing is going to change it. And at the same time, as much as we can, we need to fight for the space to have our say, because I think a lot of alternative media is getting more of the story right.
MONDAY MORNING MAGAZINE, 8/16, ON KMUD
Dear Mo, Dear Ted,
I am hosting a two hour, call-in, radio show, on Monday, August 16, 7 am-9 am, in Humboldt County, at KMUD, where I host my regularly scheduled public interest show, "Heroes and Patriots".
One of the topics we would like to discuss are the two different referendums related to the Commercial Cannabis Activities Ordinance (Chapter 22.18) adopted by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors (BOS) on June 22, 2021.
As you know, the ordinance has attracted some coverage in national cannabis media, and it may be a model for similar ordinances in other counties in Northern California.
We are inviting you to call into our show.
You have both publicly endorsed "Citizens for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA)". We would like to hear more about CSA.
Who started CSA? Who funds it? What is CSA's relationship to “The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition”, if any? And why now -- in the middle of drought and wildfire season -- when small farms are already marginalized and stressed?
Is there a cannabis land grab? Are big corporate interests and Wall Street dark money moving into Mendocino County?
CSA has a signature removal feature on its website for those interested in "un-signing" the petitions backing the referendums. It seems aggressive. One wonders: Did those who signed the petition not know what they were signing?
It is my understanding that a member of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will be invited to call into the show to discuss any topic(s) on their mind. Personally, I'd like to hear from them about drought and wildfire mitigation, but I may also ask about recent or proposed cannabis ordinances.
John Sakowicz at "Heroes and Patriots" at KMUD